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About us

Our vision

That all children and young people are heard, are healthy and safe, reach their potential and are welcomed as valued members of the community and in doing so we build a brighter future for the whole community.

Our values

Respectful | Inclusive | Creative | Positive | Determined | Independent

What we do

The Commissioner’s work is underpinned by the Commissioner for Children and Young People Act 2006 (the Act). 

The Act outlines the guiding principles, powers and functions of the office. In accordance with statutory obligations, the Commissioner:

  • advocates for children and young people
  • promotes the participation of children and young people in decision making that affects their lives and encourages government and non-government agencies to include children and young people in decision making
  • promotes and monitors the wellbeing of children and young people in the community
  • monitors the way in which government agencies investigate or otherwise deal with complaints from children and young people
  • monitors trends in complaints
  • initiates and conducts inquiries into any matter affecting the wellbeing of children and young people
  • monitors, reviews and makes recommendations on laws, policies, programs and services affecting the wellbeing of children and young people
  • promotes public awareness and understanding of matters relating to the wellbeing of children and young people
  • conducts, coordinates and sponsors research into matters relating to the wellbeing of children and young people
  • consults with children and young people from a broad range of socio-economic backgrounds and age groups throughout Western Australia each year.

The Act requires the Commissioner to give priority to, and have a special regard for, the interests and needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people and children and young people who are vulnerable or disadvantaged for any reason.

Under the Act, the Commissioner is not able to deal with complaints made by, or on behalf of, individuals, however he may respond to issues that identify possible systemic matters that negatively affect the wellbeing of children and young people more broadly.

Our guiding principles

As outlined in the Act:

  • children and young people are entitled to live in a caring and nurturing environment, protected from harm and exploitation
  • the contributions made by children and young people to the community should be recognised for their value and merit
  • the views of children and young people on all matters affecting them should be given serious consideration and taken into account
  • parents, guardians, families and communities have the primary role in safeguarding and promoting the wellbeing of their children and young people and should be supported in carrying out this role.

Our approach

Our work has regard to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and is informed by the views and opinions of children and young people and the best available knowledge and evidence of what works well.

Colin Pettit, Commissioner for Children and Young People

Colin Pettit is the Commissioner for Children and Young People WA. He was appointed in November 2015 for a five-year term.

Colin has spent almost four decades working to improve the wellbeing of children and young people, particularly in delivering education services and programs to children and young people living in regional and remote areas of the State.

Colin has worked with children, young people, families and communities all over the State as a teacher and then principal in a number of regional schools, before holding the role of Executive Director Regional and Remote Education at the Western Australian Department of Education for three years.

Between 2010 and 2015, Colin was the Secretary of Education for the Tasmanian Department of Education. He is a former President of the Western Australian Primary Principals’ Association and Deputy President of the Australian Primary Principals’ Association.


The Commissioner is an independent statutory officer and reports directly to the Parliament of Western Australia. The Commissioner is able to table reports in the Parliament, conduct inquiries and require agencies to provide information on matters relating to children and young people’s wellbeing.

The Parliament has a Joint Standing Committee on the Commissioner for Children and Young People to regularly consult with the Commissioner and monitor, review and report to Parliament on the Commissioner’s exercise of his functions under the Act.

The Commissioner met with the Committee twice in 2016−17. The Committee is chaired by the Hon. Dr Sally Elizabeth Talbot MLC. Prior to the change of government in early 2017 the Committee was chaired by Ms Lisa Baker MLA.

More information about the Committee is available from the Parliament of Western Australia website.

Commissioner’s leadership team

The office of the Commissioner for Children and Young People is divided into three main functions: policy and research, communication and engagement, and corporate support.

Trish Heath – Director Policy and Research

Trish Heath has worked with the Commissioner’s office since February 2009 as a Principal Policy Officer. Trish initially trained as a youth worker and prior to commencing with the Commissioner had an extensive work history in the alcohol and drug sector in training, policy and service management roles in both government and non-government agencies.

Paula Campbell - Manager Engagement and Communication

Paula Campbell began her career  as a journalist in NSW. She held a range of communication roles across government in the tourism, health and environment sectors before joining the Commissioner’s office in 2014. Paula holds a Bachelor of Communication Studies.

Caroline Brasnett – Manager Corporate Services

Caroline Brasnett joined the Commissioner in 2016 after 43 years with the Department of Education in a range of education and managerial roles both in schools, including deputy principal of Western Australia’s second largest school, and in central administration with roles involving human resources, risk management, and copyright and intellectual property. This was followed by a year at the School Curriculum and Standards Authority.


Ambassadors for Children and Young People

The Commissioner for Children and Young People has 12 Ambassadors for Children and Young People. The Ambassador initiative recognises eminent people living in Western Australia who have a significant role in the community and commitment to supporting children and young people and their families.

The Ambassadors work with the Commissioner to increase community awareness and understanding of factors that impact children and young people’s wellbeing and where appropriate, provide support and guidance in the projects undertaken by the Commissioner and his staff. Western Australia’s Ambassadors for Children and Young People are:

Winthrop Professor Donna Cross
Mrs Annie Fogarty AM
Professor Colleen Hayward AM
Mrs Tonya McCusker AM
Ms June Oscar AO
Professor Trevor Parry AM
His Honour Judge Denis Reynolds
Hon. Barbara Scott
Dr Casta Tungaraza
Mr David Wirrpanda
Mr Russell Woolf
Winthrop Professor Stephen Zubrick

Recent examples of the role the Ambassadors play in the work of the office include the development of the Statement of Commitment to Western Australian Children and Young People and presentations by Winthrop Professors Donna Cross (pictured above) and Stephen Zubrick at the Vulnerability Speaker Series.

In October 2017, Professor Fiona Stanley AC stepped down as an Ambassador, a role which she had held since 2008. The Commissioner acknowledges Professor Stanley’s significant contributions to the office and the children and young people of Western Australia.

Performance management framework

The Commissioner for Children and Young People’s Performance Management Framework is consistent with the State Government goal of Strong Communities: Safe communities and supported families.

Desired outcome for the Commissioner for Children and Young People

The views and issues of children and young people are heard and acted upon.

Service undertaken by the Commissioner for Children and Young People

Consultation, research and promotion of the wellbeing of children and young people.

Key Effectiveness Indicators

  • Extent to which children and young people in various regions of the State are
  • Extent to which issues impacting upon children and young people are researched, advocated and
  • Extent to which public awareness is engaged on issues impacting upon the wellbeing of children and young

Key Efficiency Indicators

  • Unit cost per child
  • Unit cost per representation

New key performance indicators were introduced for the 2017−18 financial year that capture the contemporary work of the office in line with its core functions and objectives.

The revised key performance indicators report on the number of children and young people consulted, a broader range of representations and the public awareness raising activities undertaken by the office.

Strategic plan

The Commissioner’s strategic plan, Our approach and priorities: 2016–2020, outlines the broad focus areas of the Commissioner for Children and Young People and aims to both inform and engage the community in the work of the Commissioner.

The work of the office for this reporting period is outlined under the strategic plan’s three key platforms:

  1. Promoting the rights, voices and contributions of children and young people
  2. Monitoring and advocacy to strengthen the wellbeing of all WA children and young people
  3. Prioritising the needs of disadvantaged and vulnerable children and young people.

Case study

We Are 10

The We Are 10 project was created to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the Commissioner’s office and to promote the voices and contributions of children and young people.

The Commissioner invited Year 4 students from across Western Australia to create artwork and a short statement describing what was important to them, what concerns them and their views on life as they grow up.

From metropolitan Perth to Christmas Island through the Western Desert and south to Esperance – 4,276 students from 160 schools participated in We Are 10.

The students expressed that they greatly valued their emerging independence, their families, their friends and their local environment. Many were highly aware of social issues and raised concerns about the environment, homelessness and world issues, while others spoke about hardships they faced, including broken families.

The Commissioner held a series of exhibitions across Western Australia to showcase local children’s artwork and views to the wider community where people could learn about what children need to thrive and the issues they face every day.

“My friends are important to me at age ten because they are there when I need them and they care for me and I care for them.”

The main We Are 10 exhibition was displayed at the State Library of Western Australia and the large screen in the Perth Cultural Centre during the summer school holidays. With the support of local councils, a further 80 metropolitan and regional locations displayed local artworks.

The Commissioner published a report We Are 10: Life through the eyes of 10 year-olds to describe what children had to say through We Are 10, as well as a video for each of the eight regions of Western Australia that displayed the artwork of every participating child.

The project concluded with an exhibition of artworks at Parliament House where the Members of Parliament, including Premier Mark McGowan MLA, had the opportunity to read the views of the State’s children and young people.

Artworks from the We Are 10 project are featured throughout this year’s annual report, including the cover image.

"I love being ten because I have lots of friends. I like going to school because I see my friends every day." 

"I love the freedom of being 10, mostly because I can go to places I couldn't go before. The city is a favourite place I would like to go."